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Working with lambskin
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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-08 4:35 AM (#89378)
Subject: Working with lambskin


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Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Hello everyone!

I have a new project that I would like advice on. I have a 15 yr old girl who is doing a Rodeo Queen (Jr. Miss I think) Pageant in February. They have purchased a Fuchsia lambskin to make it from. I have already done a fit garment and designed the final garments, printed them out and cut the hides.

I have never worked with a true leather but the weight is similar to a heavy denim. It has good stretch both lengthwise (head to tail) and crosswise (shoulder to shoulder). I have made some test swatches for testing my machine as well as simulating a princess curved seam. 

There isn't much info on the "how" of working with leather hides but I did find out that many times you need a rubber mallet to hammer the seam open flat as well as a wallpaper roller to roll the seams open. I have read that it is a good idea to take it 1 step further if you are not doing a top stitch of gluing the seam allowance to the garment on the inside. I have opted to go with a double sided leather tape for that as my test gives great adhesion to the suede wrong side of the hide, creating a permanent bond. I am using a med. size leather needle and polyester thread. I couldn't find any polyester wrapped or rayon wrapped cotton thread at my local fabric store.

My question is this. Has anyone ever worked with this material and, if so, are there any tricks that I could use?

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thistles
Posted 2015-01-08 11:09 AM (#89380 - in reply to #89378)
Subject: RE: Working with lambskin



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Hi Lisa, 

Peggy Sagers at Silhouette Patterns has a DVD all about working with leather.  I believe there may also be a free Webcast on her media page:

 http://www.silhouettepatterns.com/ 

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familysewn
Posted 2015-01-08 1:08 PM (#89381 - in reply to #89378)
Subject: RE: Working with lambskin


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I believe Sandra Betzina had a segment on her webcast. You can buy individual segments.
http://www.powersewing.com
Barb

Edited by familysewn 2015-01-08 1:09 PM
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Patti
Posted 2015-01-08 1:55 PM (#89382 - in reply to #89378)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin



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Check Threads magazine. They have several articles about leather. Your library may also have a book or two. Google sewing with leather and see what you get. I took the PR class done by Kenneth King (always available.. called Leather 101.

Other items you'll need are special machine needle, special glue.
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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-08 6:50 PM (#89383 - in reply to #89378)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Thanks everyone for the input. This is a new textile for me and although I tried to beg off the project for that reason, there is no one else in my area who could do this affordably for her.

I am taking great care with this. I will post some photos after the next fitting.
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Karen Maslowski
Posted 2015-01-09 9:07 AM (#89385 - in reply to #89383)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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The needles typically used for leather has a triangular point. Don't use pins; use clips of some kind. Paper clips can work, if you're careful. If you must pin, use the seam allowance, or some part that won't show, because every pin mark will stay, and so will any stitched areas.

Peacock Patterns has a little about this: http://peacockpatterns.com/store/page7.html

And it goes without saying that lambskin is a napped "fabric", so be sure all your pieces are going the same way.
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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-10 3:18 AM (#89390 - in reply to #89385)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Karen Maslowski - 2015-01-09 8:07 AM  And it goes without saying that lambskin is a napped "fabric", so be sure all your pieces are going the same way.

Actually, this is a smooth skin hide with no nap on the skin side. The underside, which we are not using, is suede. 

The interesting thing about these skins is the stretch to both the lenghwise and crosswise "grain", using grain as a loose term. Natural hides, from what I understand, really don't have a true grain. Even so, I did place my pieces on what I felt was the lengthwise grain (head to tail) of the hide since there was so much give to the hide when stretched.

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Karen Maslowski
Posted 2015-01-10 2:28 PM (#89395 - in reply to #89390)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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I'm reaching wa-a-ay back in my memory, but it seems to me I once either read or heard that the dyeing process causes the light to strike the hides/skins differently, depending on direction.

However, that would have been 25 years or so ago, and my memory may be faulty. But what a good idea, to test the stretchability by direction. Thank you for sharing that; it would not have occurred to me to test for such a thing, even though it's pretty important.
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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-11 11:02 AM (#89397 - in reply to #89378)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

I really haven't noticed anything like that. Here is what I am working with. As you can see from the hide as it lays flat, there is curling around the edges. That is where the legs, neck/shoulder and tail areas are. If you think about how this draped around the animal, you can imagine why these areas are curled. I have to work around that with most areas but with some areas, I can use that to my advantage such as within a princess seam line if I were vveerrrryyyy careful about the placement of the patterns. Since I don't have that much experience with this textile yet, I chose to use the neck to tail line as my grainline on all pieces and work in the center of each hide, away from the curling edges.

The fringe is a nightmare though! I am cutting 1/4" wide fringes on 2 1/2 sleeve pieces (goes up around the sleeve cap and drapes down the sleeve) and 4 skirt fringe pieces. (she wants double layers of skirt fringe). I only found 1 informative blog post about the best way to cut this and, after trial and error and messing up 1 piece entirely, here is what I found.

I use packing tape to tape the entire piece to be fringed to my cutting mat, overlapping the tape edges slightly. After sealing the entire piece, edges and all, in tape, I take a permanent marker and quilting ruler and lay out my cutting lines. I have had to "erase" with alcohol twice when my lines started getting off kilter. After about 2-3 tries at marking it out, I start to cut. That is not the nightmare, however. Getting the tape off the leather is the nightmare. I looked like some type of sticky octopus was attaching my hands and the cut fringe! I messed up 1 piece when I taped it suede side up. I had done this on the sleeve pieces and it worked fairly well, didn't really want to tape the smooth leather side fearing it would discolor as the tape was pulled off but I was wrong, wrong, wrong! If you ladies try this, tape on the slick side. Much easier to get the tape off although it is still a nightmare, at least I wake up from this one. Ha!

I will take more pictures of the fitting today.



Edited by lhaase0217 2015-01-11 11:14 AM




(fuchsia.hide.jpg)



(fuchsia.hide.closeup.jpg)



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Attachments fuchsia.hide.closeup.jpg (34KB - 1 downloads)
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Karen Maslowski
Posted 2015-01-11 11:47 AM (#89398 - in reply to #89397)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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I wonder if that blue painters tape would work better? Maybe less sticky? It is designed not to leave marks on walls, and even wallpaper.

The leather is lovely stuff. Looking forward to seeing your project.

I've sewn a lot of Ultrasuede and Ultraleather, but it's been a long time. And since they are microfibers, they are much different from working with the real thing, except in the respect of the need for cutting and stitching only once.
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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-11 4:20 PM (#89399 - in reply to #89378)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

I haven't worked with those but I have always known that some fabrics, such as velvets, cannot be stitched more than once. I learned the hard way like a great many of us did, I am sure. I did finally figure out the fringe taping. I was going about it all wrong, trying to pull ALL the tape off at once. That created the sticky octopus situation. Now, after I cut the fringe on 1 width of tape plus a couple of cuts into the next width, I remove the 1st full tape width. Everything comes out smoothly now. The cheap Wally World packing tape I got works just fine as it pulls right off the smooth side of the leather. The trick is to mark your lines at a right angle to the bottom cut (hem) of the fringe. I like to make a base line mark and line up my quilter's ruler to that mark then draw. Something like this. After marking, I go back and cut. Turns out great.

Because of the slipperiness (sp?) of the tape, I use my Mom's old Sad Iron as a weight to keep the ruler from slipping. 



Edited by lhaase0217 2015-01-11 4:23 PM




(fuchsia.fringe.jpg)



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Karen Maslowski
Posted 2015-01-12 7:59 AM (#89402 - in reply to #89399)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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Wow, nice and straight.
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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-12 12:33 PM (#89403 - in reply to #89402)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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Karen Maslowski - 2015-01-12 6:59 AM Wow, nice and straight.

Better be. I had to alcohol off 3 attempts before I finally got this. Whew!

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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-12 6:54 PM (#89404 - in reply to #89378)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin-tape octopus


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Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
It's alive!



(tape.octopus.jpg)



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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-13 7:01 PM (#89408 - in reply to #89378)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Here is the project nearing completion. The only things left for me to do is to tape down the splits in the skirt and hem it, insert the other sleeve & sleeve fringe piece and attach all the facings.

Since I charge by the hour, my clients have opted to put the rhinestones on themselves, thank goodness. I dreaded all that tedious work.

Everything is turning out well, from my perspective. I worried about how the princess seams would lay down but after cutting wedges and clips where necessary and putting the double sided leather tape to hold the seams apart, everything looks good. You can only get so much of a smooth seam with this type of textile, I have found.

The only thing that I will change the next time I work with this type of textile is to reduce the sleeve cap ease. It is VERY difficult to ease in the standard sleeve cap into leather I have found. Thankfully on this project, the sleeve fringe covers up the difficult ease.



(anna.fuchsia.outfit1.jpg)



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cfonfold
Posted 2015-01-13 8:04 PM (#89409 - in reply to #89408)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin



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Looking really good Lisa!
Coopie
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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-13 10:21 PM (#89411 - in reply to #89409)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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Thanks, Patricia. I am pleased, for the most part. I am so glad that I just have an old Singer mechanical machine. Once the bobbin tension was adjusted, it stitched well through 5 layers of hide.
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Karen Maslowski
Posted 2015-01-13 11:52 PM (#89412 - in reply to #89408)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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Well done!

I don't blame you for not wanting to place rhinestones. Apart from the tedium, that's an especially tricky job to do, and once you've gotten the project this far, it's good to know you can let go the breath you've no doubt been holding!
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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-14 5:01 AM (#89413 - in reply to #89412)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Yes, Karen, you are quite right. I just finished inserting the other sleeve/fringe set, hemmed the sleeves and inserted the neck facing. I am working on finishing up the skirt now, attaching the waistline facing and finishing up the slits and hem. I don't mind pulling all nighters once in awhile if I am on a roll with something.

I have learned a lot from this experience. Since you can't really steam hides to get a nice flat seam, you do have to pound them out with a rubber mallet. I thought this was rather extreme at first however after meeting up with cross seams that my poor old machine was having trouble with, I found that pounding out these areas before I stitched really helped. Also grading and pounding out the armhole/sleeve area was necessary in order to have a nice flat sleeve area.

Double sided leather tape, although sticky to use, was a life saver as a basting tool as well as laying the seams out flat. I used the tape to "pin" my patterns to the hide, putting small pieces only in the corners and, if needed, in the center of a long area, but always within the seam allowance. I did find it easy to remove from the smooth side of the hide without marring the textile if you picked it off fairly quickly. It is more difficult to remove without marring the hide if it has set on it for a bit. All in all, I relied on it heavily.

The sleeves were difficult to insert. I had to run basting stitches by hand about 1/8" apart using a very long thread on one side only, stopping at the shoulder seam. Once I had the ease distributed, using the same thread as I basted with, I went back and basted the sleeve in. Then I did the other side. I left those stitches in as an extra line that held those 2 - 3 layers together.

I did find that when I was sewing, the textile left a sticky goo on my plate covering my bobbin (below the throat plate). I had to alcohol it off many times and the same thing with my hand needle. There is something about this organic fabric that does this, I don't know what. Maybe the chemicals from the tanning & dyeing? I finally got so annoyed at it that I used packing tape to cover my throat plate and bobbin plate and after that, no more goo.

 I hope this thread helps someone else out, at least to help dispel any fears about working with this. If I can do it, anyone can.

Now that I have gotten my hands dirty, and have my measurements in PMB, and have made 2 successful garments for myself, I think I will be starting to put some money back to buy enough hides to make myself a jacket. I found this site while searching around one night. I have my eye on that white laser cut limited edition leather for maybe the back panel and flounce and the front facing and collar of a white jacket. I think it would be lovely.

http://dantonleather.com/New-Specialty.html



Edited by lhaase0217 2015-01-14 5:14 AM
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Grandma C
Posted 2015-01-14 10:21 AM (#89414 - in reply to #89378)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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Beautiful and fast work.
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Karen Maslowski
Posted 2015-01-14 2:48 PM (#89415 - in reply to #89413)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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You might try, for your next leather/skin project, using a silicone-coated foot, or a roller foot, or even coating the bottom of your foot with silicone liquid. It will help with the gunkiness.

I wrote about half of a book on how to sew for Taunton, years ago, and for that book I collected a lot of specialty feet and specialty needles, including a silicone one. It's brilliant for stitching napped fabrics of any kind.
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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-14 4:34 PM (#89416 - in reply to #89415)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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I bought and used the silicone foot along with a good invisible zipper foot thinking I would be putting an invisible zipper in at least the top. I changed my mind on that later and went to a regular center aligned zipper.

How does this list compare to what you got, Karen? What else could/should I have in my box? I know I need a walking foot for this and other applications.

  • Leather needles
  • Silicone foot
  • Double sided leather tape (replaces glue)
  • Rubber mallet
  • Wallpaper seam roller

 I found a beautiful laser cut lace lambskin that I am dying to get for part of a jacket. Is that book still in publication?



Edited by lhaase0217 2015-01-14 4:37 PM
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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-15 7:44 PM (#89417 - in reply to #89378)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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Ok, I am finished. Here are the photos I took today. I am stilling thinking that I need to work on the back width and slope a bit but for the purposes of this particular textile, I think it turned out quite well.




(anna.finished.front.jpg)



(anna.finished.back.jpg)



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Attachments anna.finished.back.jpg (44KB - 0 downloads)
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cfonfold
Posted 2015-01-15 8:26 PM (#89418 - in reply to #89417)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin



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A shoulder pad should take care of that Lisa. You might need to lower the armscye depth a bit as well. I think the shoulder width looks good
.Coopie
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lhaase0217
Posted 2015-01-15 9:51 PM (#89419 - in reply to #89418)
Subject: Re: Working with lambskin


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cfonfold - 2015-01-15 7:26 PM A shoulder pad should take care of that Lisa. You might need to lower the armscye depth a bit as well. I think the shoulder width looks good .Coopie

 Thanks, Patricia, I think you might be right. Before we do our next project, I will try her fit garment on again and make some more adjustments. They are coming back over on Monday to pick up something and I will ask them to bring it with them. Ihave a couple of shoulder pads that I think will work.

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